Category Archives: Ace Frehley

Ace Frehley – Space Invader [Review]

ace-frehley-space-invader-cover

Ace Frehley – Space Invader
2014, eOne Music

1. Space Invader
2. Gimme A Feelin’ [Radio Edit]
3. I Wanna Hold You
4. Change
5. Toys
6. Immortal Pleasure
7. Inside the Vortex
8. What Every Girl Wants
9. Past the Milky Way
10. Reckless
11. The Joker
12. Starship

Musicians:
Ace Frehley – Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Matt Starr – Drums
Chris Wyse – Bass

Producer: Ace Frehley

There was a sticker on the wrapper that said “Space Ace has out KISSed KISS. This may end up the best KISS album KISS never recorded.” Relax, dude.

Of course, Ace being Ace, you can’t help but pick out the classic KISS sound on a few of these tracks. It’s a part of who he is as a musician. That classic KISS sound couldn’t have existed without Ace playing lead. “Toys” and “Inside the Vortex” have that classic KISS vibe. And “Inside the Vortex” actually sounds like something that fits right alongside “Modern Day Delilah” and “I’m An Animal” from KISS’ Sonic Boom album. “What Every Girl Wants” isn’t a standout track but it has a KISS vibe as well.

It’s the first four tracks that I find to be the best. “Space Invader” is some of Ace’s best guitar work in decades. “Gimme A Feelin'” and “I Wanna Hold You” are kinda like amped up ’50s/’60s rock. Very catchy. Especially “I Wanna Hold You” (which is tied with “Space Invader” as my absolute favorite song from the album). “Change” reminds me of something we might’ve heard from Frehley’s Comet back in the late ’80s.

Maybe it requires further listening but “Restless” strikes me as a bit of filler and Ace’s cover of the Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” is most unwelcome. Not because of Ace’s performance but because the original song itself is terrible.

Ace closes the album with an instrumental called “Starship”, which is worthy successor to the “Fractured” series of instrumentals and done in the same vein. I would not be mad if any and all future Ace albums continued to feature “Fractured”-like instrumental. It would be nice to have a compilation of all of these instrumentals. I’m sure something like that will pop up on YouTube eventually if it isn’t already there. I would have to listen back to know for sure but off the top of my head the song “Immortal Pleasures” (which is not an instrumental) seems reminiscent of the “Fractured” instrumentals.

I don’t feel bad that Ace is not in KISS anymore. He signed his rights away to the character he created and left the band on at least two different occasions of his own freewill and I think he can be just as much of a flaky, egotistical trash-talker as Gene, Paul and Peter can be. I’m saying this to show that I’m not an Ace fanboy and while I thought Anomaly was good, I was only mildly interested in this CD as I figured Ace probably didn’t have enough in the tank to even match the quality of that album. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised to be wrong! This is a great album and blows Anomaly away. Space Invader easily trumps everything, except Ace’s first solo album way back in 1978.

Highlights: “Space Invader”, “Gimme A Feelin'”, “I Wanna Hold You”, “Change”, “Inside the Vortex”, “Past the Milky Way”, “Starship”

 

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My thoughts on KISS getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and album reviews coming

If you follow the world of rock/metal online, you’d be hard pressed not to know that KISS is finally getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 10, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. You’d also have to be living under a rock to not be aware of the controversy surrounding which members are (and are not) getting inducted. It’s become quite a mess. Gene & Paul are having it out in the press with Ace & Peter, Gene & Paul are having it out with the HOF’s induction process, the fans are having it out with Gene & Paul, etc. It goes on and on.

Here’s what we know: the Hall of Fame is inducting only Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. The original four members of KISS and that’s it. They aren’t inducting anyone else and they don’t want anyone else (such as Tommy Thayer & Eric Singer) performing at the induction ceremony. Frankly, that’s silly, but look — KISS has been eligible for induction for a long time and for the Hall of Fame execs to put this restriction on the band is just their way to make the induction as painful as possible for KISS. It’s like they couldn’t put off leaving KISS out of the Hall any longer because the public was becoming too vocal about their exclusion but at the same time the Hall of Fame didn’t want to make it a fun/easy process for the band.

No one is arguing the founders shouldn’t be in but I think all members should be inducted and that they should be allowed to perform with Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer (which the Hall does not want). My dream scenario is that everyone who has ever been in KISS gets inducted and then the classic line-up plays and then the modern line-up plays and/or they have all six of those guys (plus Bruce Kulick) jam together.

It’s not a big deal to induct every single member of KISS, so I don’t see why the Hall is resisting it:

  • No question, Eric Carr definitely deserves to be in. Great drummer and he contributed to the band for 11 years on many successful albums.
  • Bruce Kulick — same situation. He was there for 8 years and played on a number of KISS albums that went gold/platinum.
  • Vinnie Vincent. Not sure if anyone could even find this guy and he didn’t have the best relationship with Gene & Paul but even they would admit his guitar work and songwriting skills played a big hand in freshening up the band’s sound and giving them some of the best albums they’ve ever produced.
  • Eric Singer first joined KISS in 1991 after Eric Carr’s death, had a short stint in the early 2000s filling in for Peter Criss and has been their drummer since 2004 when Peter Criss once again left and has sung lead vocals on a handful of KISS tracks.
  • Tommy Thayer is a big force in the modern band. Great guitar player and he’s been playing with them since 2002 and has songwriting credits/vocal duties on the last two KISS albums. I could see someone maybe arguing against Tommy though given the time frame he joined, but I think he’s contributed enough to warrant the induction.
  • Given his very short tenure, Mark St. John is probably the only KISS member you could question for HOF status and say that he didn’t contribute much to the band… provided you consider playing on a platinum-selling album as not contributing much.

It’s nice that the band is getting inducted into something called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when you consider the people who run the Hall and the list of people who have already been inducted, it’s anything but a legit rock hall. No one in their right mind would argue that if there is such a hall that KISS deserves to be there, but it’s sad that the RNR Hall of Fame is refusing to acknowledge the entire career of the band and wants to focus only on the 1970s.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for some KISS fans but I actually applaud Gene & Paul for refusing to give in and play strictly with Ace & Peter. They want all eras of KISS to be recognized and they think Eric & Tommy deserve to stand on stage. I agree. I know there is the whole Gene & Paul vs. Ace & Peter thing, and that’s sad, but I don’t have a problem with Gene & Paul’s “all or nothing” stance.

Now, I recently noticed there’s a surprising amount of KISS albums I haven’t yet reviewed. I could’ve sworn I reviewed them all! Well, with all the buzz regarding KISS these days thanks to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the fact that this year is the band’s 40th anniversary, there’s no better time than now to finish reviewing the band’s catalog! Be on the look out for those reviews in the coming weeks.

SPACEWALK: A Salute to Ace Frehley

Various Artists – Spacewalk: A Salute to Ace Frehley (1996, Shrapnel Records/Triage Records)

1. “Deuce” – Marty Friedman … 3:47
2. “Shock Me” – Gilby Clarke … 3:23
3. “Rip It Out” – Scott Ian … 3:47
4. “Hard Luck Woman” – Ron Young & Jeff Watson … 3:11
5. “Snowblind” – Snake Sabo … 4:01
6. “Rock Bottom” – Sebastian Bach … 3:07
7. “Parasite” – Tracii Guns … 3:16
8. “Cold Gin” – John Norum … 4:10
9. “New York Groove” – Bruce Bouillet … 4:52
10. “Fractured Mirror” – Dimebag Darrell … 6:35

Pretty good tribute to Ace although some of these songs choices make me scratch my head. “Deuce”? “Hard Luck Woman”?  Ace didn’t sing lead on these songs and he didn’t write them either so what’s the connection? “Deuce” is a Gene signature song and “Hard Luck Woman” belongs to Peter. They could’ve easily left those songs out and included “Strange Ways”, “Rocket Ride”, “Hard Times”, “Talk To Me” or even something from his solo days.

The songs are pretty faithful to the originals but it’s fun to hear other artists’ slight interpretations especially when you’ve got artists like Mary Friedman, Tracii Guns, Scott Ian, Sebastian Bash, etc. The artists listed aren’t necessarily the vocalists but I guess they were considered the “biggest” names to be playing on the tracks so they get their names front and center. In fact, Scott Ian (who is on vocals) has Anthrax bandmates Frankie Bello and Charlie Benante backing him up on “Rip It Out” while Dimebag Darrell and his brother/Pantera bandmate Vinnie Paul performed all of “Fractured Mirror”. Judas Priest drummer Scott Travis plays on a number of these songs.

I don’t know who Bruce Bouillet is but his version of “New York Groove” sucks. I guess he took it back to the original version that was done by Hello. Ace’s take have never been a favorite of mine and I like the original version even less.

For the few bucks I was able to snag this online for, it was well worth the purchase. It’s a good novelty disc for hardcore KISS fans and Dimebag Darrell’s “Fractured Mirror” needs to be heard.

Highlights: “Hard Luck Woman”, “Snowblind”, “Rock Bottom”, “Parasite”, “Fractured Mirror”

ACE FREHLEY – Anomaly

Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009, Bronx Born Records)

1. “Foxy & Free” … 3:43
2. “Outer Space” … 3:48
3. “Pain In The Neck” … 4:18
4. “Fox on the Run” … 3:34
5. “Genghis Khan” … 6:08
6. “Too Many Faces” … 4:22
7. “Change the World” … 4:11
8. “Space Bear” … 5:24
9. “A Little Below The Angels” … 4:17
10. “Sister” … 4:48
11. “It’s a Great Life” … 4:00
12. “Fractured Quantum” … 6:19

Musicians:
Ace Frehley – Vocals, Lead Guitar, Bass
Derrek Hawkins – Rhythm Guitar
Anthony Esposito – Bass
Anton Fig – Drums, Percussion
Scot Coogan – Drums, Percussion
Marti Frederiksen – Keyboards, Bass, Rhythm Guitar

Producer: Ace Frehley, Marti Frederiksen (“Fox on the Run”)

Great release! I wasn’t sure if Ace was up to the task of delivering anything resembling a solid hard rock release, but he did it. Ace has always been a bit out there beyond the stars, so while I was looking forward to this one, I figured it was either going to be really good or really bad, no in-between.

Luckily, it’s really good. I own Ace’s first two albums, and this basically sounds like his self-titled debut and a bit of Frehley’s Comet. Some of these songs would’ve fit in perfectly on either album.

It’s one thing for me to listen to a song and say “yeah, that’s good”, but when the song is stuck in my head– that’s an entirely different story. “Outer Space” is incredibly catchy, heavy but catchy. “Sister” (which apparently is a reworking of a mid-90s demo Ace had) and “Pain In The Neck” are the same way.

There’s a number of instrumentals here as well. I already knew about “Fractured Quantum” (the fourth and final in the “Fractured” series according to Ace), but when I heard “Space Bear” and “Genghis Khan” (are those classic Ace titles or what?) were instrumentals as well, I was slightly disappointed. I wanted full blown songs and felt the new “Fractured” should receive the only instrument spotlight. Again, I lucked out because the other two instrumentals are very well done and I actually prefer “Space Bear” and “Genghis Khan” over “Fractured Quantum”.

Basically, every track is enjoyable except for one. And that one song would be “A Little Below the Angels”. I find myself skipping that one, it’s just too corny and strange for me.

I had some trouble finding this album. I figured for sure Best Buy would have it, but they didn’t. Neither did FYE (which I wasn’t surprised by). Walmart didn’t have it either. I’ve heard that some Best Buy and Walmart stores do have the album in though. Either way, let’s just stay distribution wasn’t all that great for this one, but here’s the cool thing — the album still managed to land at #27 on the Billboard 200 for its first week. I definitely didn’t see that one coming.

One question for ya Ace: Why did it take TWENTY YEARS to give us this new solo album ?! C’mon, Ace — give us another one by 2011!

Highlights: “Foxy & Free”, “Outer Space”, “Pain In The Neck”, “Genghis Khan”, “Space Bear”, “Sister”, “Fractured Quantum”

www.acefrehley.com
www.myspace.com/acefrehley

KISS – Ace Frehley

KISS – Ace Frehley [Remastered] (1997, Mercury Records)
Original Release: 1978, Casablanca Records

1. “Rip It Out” … 3:40
2. “Speedin’ Back to My Baby” … 3:37
3. “Snowblind” … 3:55
4. “Ozone” … 4:40
5. “What’s on Your Mind?” … 3:27
6. “New York Groove” … 3:03
7. “I’m in Need of Love” … 4:37
8. “Wiped-Out” … 4:13
9. “Fractured Mirror” … 5:26

Credits:
Ace Frehley – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Backing Vocals
Anton Fig – Drums
Carl Tallarico – Drums
Will Lee – Bass
Susan Collins, Larry Kelly, David Lasley, Bill Scheinan – Backing Vocals

Produced by: Eddie Kramer

Years ago, I picked up all four of the KISS solo albums within the span of two or three months, but the Ace album was my first purchase, based on it getting the most positive reviews. I prefer Paul’s release over this one, but Ace’s offering for the 1978 solo stunt is very good and rocks the hardest out of all four. Paul’s album was the most KISS-like, Gene’s was typically all over the place musically (and had more cameos than a rap album) in an attempt to find a hit somewhere, Peter gave us a lounge act, but Ace? Ace just wanted to rock.

Ace scored the biggest only commercial hit of all for albums with “New York Groove”, but the standout track is the beautiful instrumental “Fractured Mirror”. In fact, “Fractured Mirror” is so good, that Ace has given us three sequel instrumentals over the years: “Fractured II” (from 1987’s Frehley’s Comet), “Fractured III” (from 1989’s Trouble Walkin’) and “Fractured Quantum” (from 2009’s upcoming Anomaly).

While I think Ace usually has the weakest song on KISS albums, this album is proof positive that he can write great rock songs and perhaps Gene & Paul should’ve allowed/encouraged him to do a bit more while a member of KISS.

Highlights: “Rip It Out”, “Speedin’ Back to My Baby”, “Snowblind”, “New York Groove”, “Wiped-Out”, “Fractured Mirror”

www.acefrehley.com
www.myspace.com/acefrehley

ACE FREHLEY – Frehley’s Comet

Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet (1987, Megaforce Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Rock Soldiers” … 5:05
2. “Breakout” … 3:38
3. “Into The Night” … 4:12
4. “Something Moved” … 4:02
5. “We Got Your Rock” … 4:12
6. “Love Me Right” … 3:54
7. “Calling To You” … 4:20
8. “Dolls” … 3:28
9. “Stranger In A Strange Land” … 4:02
10. “Fractured Too” [instrumental] … 4:14

Band:
Ace Frehley: Lead & Backing Vocals, Guitar
Tod Howarth: Lead & Backing Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard
John Regan: Bass, Backing Vocals
Anton Fig: Drums

Produced by: Eddie Kramer & Ace Frehley

“Ace is back and he told ya so!”

1980s melodic hard rock cheese was in full effect here, but this is still a fun album that I’ll dust off every now and then for “Rock Soldiers” and “Into the Night”. It’s more polished and mainstreamed than Ace’s solo debut was, but still a fun ride. Ace splits lead vocal duties with band member Tod Howarth, who has the standard voice for this kind of music.

“Breakout” was co-written by Eric Carr. “Calling to You” is a reworked version of “Megaforce” by Tod Howarth’s previous band, 707, which was a minor rock hit in ’82.

Highlights: “Rock Soldiers”, “Breakout”, “Into the Night”, “Love Me Right”, “Fractured Too”

www.acefrehley.com

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